By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
A lawmaker is seeking to mandate the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to allocate slots for the admission and recruitment of indigenous peoples (IPs).
Senator Francis Tolentino on Friday pushed for the approval of Senate Bill No. 405, his proposed Katutubong Tagapagtanggol Act, which would provide for the school admission and acceptance share in the PMA and PNP for IPs or members of indigenous cultural communities (ICCs).
“The members of the ICCs/IPs are overlooked and sometimes discriminated upon, and not given the chance to serve, protect, and defend the country simply because of their culture,” Tolentino said in his proposal.
Under the bill, the PMA and the PNP Academy shall be mandated to admit and enlist IPs into their academic program. At least 10 percent of new cadets shall belong to ICCs, the measure states.
IPs shall not be discriminated against by reason of their physical, social, and cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs.
Any person, public official, or employee who discriminates in any manner against members of the IPs, by reason of their membership in the ICCs, shall immediately be subjected to the proper disciplinary action or proceedings of the service.
The “willful” failure, refusal, or negligence by the disciplining authority to investigate and initiate disciplinary proceedings shall likewise be a cause for dismissal from the service of the disciplining authority, the bill added.
Any sanctions for violations provided under the bill shall be without prejudice to the criminal penalties and sanctions provided under the Republic Act No. 8371 or The Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997.
At a recent Senate hearing, Tolentino urged the PNP to give a fair chance to IPs and hire them into their force.
“The[ir] culture must be celebrated, brought into the light and integrated into society for it is something that brings honor and pride to the country,” he said.